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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
22 Jan 2018
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).
How intermittency affects the rate at which rainfall extremes respond to changes in temperature
Marc Schleiss Department of Geoscience & Remote Sensing, Delft University of Technology
Abstract. A detailed analysis of how intermittency modulates the rate at which sub-daily rainfall extremes depend on temperature is presented. Results show that hourly extremes tend to be predominantly controlled by peak intensity, increasing at a rate of approximately 7 % per degree in agreement with the Clausius–Clapeyron equation. However, rapid increase of rainfall intermittency upward of 20–25 degrees Celsius is shown to produce local deviations from this theoretical scaling, resulting in lower correlations between rainfall and temperature. On the other hand, rapidly decreasing intermittency with temperature between 10–20 degrees can result in higher net scaling rates than expected, potentially exceeding Clausius–Clapeyron. In general, the importance of intermittency in controlling the scaling rates of precipitation totals with temperature grows as we progress from hourly to daily aggregation time scales and beyond. Thermodynamic effects still play an important role in controlling the maximum water holding capacity of the atmosphere and therefore peak rainfall intensity. But the observational evidence shows that beyond a few hours, storm totals become increasingly dominated by dynamical factors such as event duration and internal intermittency. The conclusion is that Clausius–Clapeyron scaling alone can not be used to reliably predict the net effective changes in rainfall extremes with temperature beyond a few hours. A more general scaling model that takes into account simultaneous changes in intermittency and peak intensity with temperature is proposed to help better disentangle these two phenomena. The model is applied to a large number of high-resolution rain gauge time series in the United States. Results show that the new model with intermittency greatly improves the representation of rainfall extremes with temperature, producing a much more consistent and reliable picture of extremes across scales than what can be achieved using Clausius–Clapeyron only.
Citation: Schleiss, M.: How intermittency affects the rate at which rainfall extremes respond to changes in temperature, Earth Syst. Dynam. Discuss.,, in review, 2018.
Marc Schleiss
Marc Schleiss
Marc Schleiss


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Short summary
The present study aims at shedding new light on the importance of intermittency and how it modulates the rate at which precipitation extremes (in current climate) depend on temperature. The analysis of 99 stations in the United States reveals that rapid increases or decreases in intermittency cause extremes to respond differently to changes in temperature than expected from Clausius–Clapeyron. A new model is proposed to help better anticipate changes across scales.
The present study aims at shedding new light on the importance of intermittency and how it...